The Turkish Flag


Heres a bit of information about the Turkish Flag.

Meaning of the Turkish flag
Meaning of flags is a difficult topic, especially when flags are very ancient. There is usually sparse historical evidence and a lot of legends. Moreover, individuals may have their own interpretation of their national flag.

Historical facts:

Red has been prominent in Turkish flags for 700 years. The star and crescent are Muslim symbols, but also have a long pre-Islamic past in Asia Minor. The basic form of the national flag was apparently established in 1793 under Sultan Selim III, when the green flags used by the navy were changed to red and a white crescent and multipointed star were added. The five-pointed star dates from approximately 1844. Except for the issuance of design specifications, no change was made when the Ottoman Empire became the Republic of Turkey and the Caliphate (religious authority) was terminated. Many traditions explain the star and crescent symbol. It is known that Diana was the patron goddess of Byzantium and that her symbol was a moon. In 330, the Emperor Constantine rededicated the city - which he called Constantinople - to the Virgin Mary, whose star symbol was superimposed over the crescent. In 1453 Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Turks and renamed Istanbul, but its new rulers may have adopted the existing emblem for their own use.


A reflection of the moon occulting a star, appearing in pools of blood after the battle of Kosovo in 1448 [the battle during which the Ottomans defeated the Christian forces and established the Ottoman Empire in Eastern Europe until the end of the XIXth century], led to the adoption of the Turkish flag by Sultan Murad II according to one legend. Others refer to a dream of the first Ottoman Emperor in which a crescent and star appeared from his chest and expanded, presaging the dynasty's seizure of Constantinople. At least three other legends explain the flag.

Nicknames of the flag

Turkish people call their national flag ay yildiz (moon star).

Ayyildiz is also the name of a Turkish city at approx. 36.80 latitude, 37.73 longitude.

Another nickname for the flag is al sancak, which translates into "red banner". Besides, sancak has its unique meaning in Turkish and cannot be directly translated into English, but the nearest to that is the "banner".

I think "red banner" is a good translation for al sancak. I think this nickname for the Turkish flag comes from the words of the Turkish national anthem Istiklal Marsi. The poet of national anthem, Mehmet Akif Ersoy used this metaphor for the flag.

Coming to the translation, sancak is defined as "banner", "flag" or "standard" in Turkish-English dictionaries that I've looked up. The Turkish definition of sancak is "flag carried by military unit, usually having writings, fringe and pole". Today, I think it corresponds to "banner", however its meaning when it was first used could be different and can mean any flag.

The very same word was used in Ottoman times for an adminstrative unit (see also Sandžak in Serbia and Montenegro). but it is does not correspond to any administrative division in Turkey any more.

As I understood, the administrative unit was named sancak after it being ruled by a ruler who had right and duty to maintain a military unit that carryied his flag , i.e. a (teritoirial) sancak would provide one unit with a flag

"Throughout the centuries, the flag has undegone many changes. While it has been red most of the time the flag has also been green. At times it was known to have three crescents, and three stars or three crescents only, or a single crescent, or three stars with a crescent. There are many legends as to the origin of the crescent and star on the Turkish flag.

hope u dont all get bored reading this.
There are a lot of similarities between the Turkmenistan flag and Turkish flag.
And also with the flag of the Turkish related people living in China & Iraq.
(Turkmens in Irak have almost the same flag as Turkey right? Only in blue and more crescents/stars)
Joanne, nice post. I dont think anyone should be bored reading it all, its important for tourists and ex pats alike to understand the significance and meaning of the flag when visiting Turkey.



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I have read that before on a other website, but it's still so interesting!! Thanks for posting it, Dionne